W-A-S-D: DRM Or No Game At All? Pick Your Poison

Nathan Grayson

So, Gears of War 2 isn't coming to the PC. Ever. Straight from Lead Game Designer CliffyB :

"Here's the problem right now; the person who is savvy enough to want to have a good PC to upgrade their video card, is a person who is savvy enough to know Bittorrent to know all the elements so they can pirate software. Therefore, high-end videogames are suffering very much on the PC."

"Right now, it makes sense for us to focus on Xbox 360 for a number of reasons. Not least PCs with multiple configurations and piracy."

And finally, when questioned about a PC port for our jump-suit clad selves of the future:

" No. "

But along with giving me one extra reason to cry myself to sleep at night -- as well as driving a nice, fat stake into GFW's termite-infested coffin -- Bleszinski's comments raise an interesting question: What's worse? Tearing open a game box only to find the sour scent of DRM sulking its way into your nostrils, or never being given the chance to purchase (or "rent," for the more bitter among you) a game at all?

After all, PC gaming's most vocal masses thrust their picket signs toward the sky by not purchasing or playing DRM-ridden games. And, for many, DRM taints the gaming experience to which it's attached anyway, so why play something that only serves to send an army of cracks riveting through your dam on upsetting emotions? It would seem, then, that Gears of War 2's non-presence on the PC is akin keeping one's yap shut during a heated argument. No positive opinion, but nothing negative either.

Before I plunge into the meat of this argument, though, a quick review. Why do we hate DRM? Primarily, for two reasons: 1) It chains us to a slab of restrictions that could have ramifications on down the line. For instance, what happens if a publisher's bank account flatlines, and it's forced to finally push the big red, oh-so-tempting self-destruct button on its authentication servers? 2) DRM's existence is based on the assumption that we (presumably honest customers) are larcenous scoundrels who pilfer and subsequently abuse any product we happen to snatch from Bittorrent's illicit shelves. Guilty until proven innocent, etc.

Really though, after digging a few files out of your brain's "Common Sense" folder, it becomes apparent that most of the current ire over DRM stems from the second reason -- simply because those of us who are tech-savvy enough to even get a tiny vein throbbing in our foreheads over DRM are also tech-savvy enough to download a DRM crack with little to no hassle.

And so, Gears of War 2's plan to begin finish continue the fight only on Microsoft's curvaceous, big-in-Japan console is like the less relentlessly-hammered-into-our-minds portion of Minority Report. The part where people are tossed in the slammer (and also shaved bald, for some reason) with no margin for innocence -- where "guilty until proven innocent" is twisted into an instant and irrevocable lifetime sentence.

With Sp... the "S" word -- not to mention BioShock -- at least we were given a choice of whether or not to plunk our money down on a game. On top of that, EA and 2K's intentions were, while certainly money-driven, on some level, good. With Gears 2, however, Epic is raking its thumb across its neck -- damning us with no chance for a retrial.

We aren't even worthy of DRM.

And that, my friends, is one hell of a burn.

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